I mentioned last week that my key to successfully getting short stories accepted at the moment seems to be just to send out the same story, Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams, out over and over again, since it got picked up by two different markets within a week of each other.
Recent events have made me reconsider this rule slightly. From now on, I'll only be sending out either Caretaker or tales that have the word "black" in the title. Reason being, having recently had Black Sun accepted by Digital Science Fiction, I've now sold Black Horticulture to long-standing, consistently great webzine Abyss and Apex.
According to my dubious records, Abyss and Apex was the thirteenth market I ever sent to, way back in early 2006. Since then, I've been hammering them with submissions on a regular basis, at a rate of roughly three a year. So all told, it only took me sixteen attempts to find one they really liked! Sometimes determination really does pay off. Then again, sometimes they call it "stalking" and throw you in jail for it; I guess telling one situation from the other is just one of those life lessons we all have to learn sooner or later.
Anyway, Black Horticulture's kind of a special story, and I'm really glad it was the one A & A finally caved on. In 2007 or 2008, I wrote a small handful of tales where, for the first time, I really felt like I'd nailed something, even if I wasn't completely sure what it was or what to do with it. Black Horticulture was one of those. If I remember rightly, the others were Rindelstein's Monsters, which ended up in Comet Press's The Death Panel anthology, In the Service of the Guns, which landed in Space and Time, and Dancing in the Winter Rooms, coming up in Electric Velocipede. So they've all done good, and Black Horticulture is no exception. If it's taken a bit longer than the others, it's because - in another one of those crucial life lesson things - I discovered that sometimes you don't have to start with five pages of back story covering your hero's entire life from birth, you can just tuck that information away in a couple of lines in dialogue. Eureka!
Right. I'd better get back to work on my new story. It's called Black Caretaker in the Black Garden of Black Dreams - the uplifting tale of one 1940s African-American groundskeeper's struggle to defend the baseball stadium where he works as a nightwatchman from interdimensional aliens. Seriously, this one's gonna make me rich...